This “expert” made me lol

Yesterday I was doing some research for a client, and I stumbled across this “pearl of wisdom”:

“For 2014, it’s important to remember two things: 1) everything is online and 2) people are smarter than they used to be.”

This was in an article about marketing for mortgage brokers.

And I literally busted out laughing when I read it.

This “expert” managed to get both of these points completely wrong:

  1. Yes, the Internet has opened up entire new channels for marketers, like email, search engines and social media.

But these new channels haven't wiped out traditional media like direct mail, TV and radio. They've simply given advertisers more choices.

It's true that a lot of advertisers have moved online because it's faster and seems cheaper. But now the online world is crowded and full of distractions.

Ironically this has made direct mail MORE effective. Many businesses that market exclusively online could 2-4X their revenue by adding direct mail. (Skeptical? Google and Facebook promote their online advertising using… direct mail.)

  1. Sorry, no offense to anyone, but people these days are NOT smarter than they were 100 years ago. There's a whole cottage industry of marketers who like to preach that the arrival of the Internet somehow changed the fundamentals of human nature.

In the old days, these acolytes of progress claim, people were gullible dupes who bought on emotion.

Today's consumer is more sophisticated. Now people buy on pure logic and reason. Because Twitter.

It's an appealing message—that we're somehow smarter than the billions of people who came before us.

But it's a lie, and embracing this idea in your marketing would be a disaster.

Human nature hasn't changed since the beginning of time. We still make most of our decisions on the same gut-level instincts and “lizard brain” emotions.

Case in point:

A few months back, I was promoting a webinar in my Sublime Text Tips newsletter. The audience for that email newsletter is mostly programmers—one of the most skeptical, rational audiences you can imagine.

We ran 2 different ads for the webinar. The first was written by the programmer who was hosting the webinar, and it made a strong, logical case for signing up.

The second ad was one I wrote, tapping into a common frustration that web developers feel every day. It was little more than a primal scream of rage, followed with a “click here to sign up.”

My ad outperformed the original ad 3:1.

Here's my point in all of this:

Marketing isn't as complicated as people think. The principles that actually work were discovered more than 100 years ago.

When you master the timeless principles, you can sift and sort all the new, shiny tactics that over-eager marketing “experts” try to force on you.

And while other people are chasing mirages and fairy tales, you can just sit back and get your lolz.